Catskills lake real estate
Swinging Bridge, Sullivan County, NY

Swinging Bridge Reservoir, a motorboat lake in Sullivan County, NY

Swinging Bridge is an 1,000 acre motorboat lake, approximately 9 miles long, that straddles three towns. The northern two thirds of the eastern shore is in the towns of Thompson (north) and Forestburgh (south), while the western shoreline is in the towns of Bethel and Forestburgh.

Swinging Bridge is a reservoir, part of a five lake power generating system owned by Eagle Creek Renewable Resources. The Swinging Bridge dam is at the southern end of the lake. The water level on this lake can vary by as much as twenty or more feet over the course of the year, with the lowest water period typically at the end of August. This is one reason that docks on Swinging Bridge are floating, so they can move up or down with the lake levels. In most years, the lake level is also dropped by fifteen or twenty feet prior to the onset of winter to mitigate the effect of ice pressure on the dam and shoreline.

The lake has roughly three sections. The northern third of the lake is comprised of two narrower ‘fingers’, so don’t have big wide lake views, but have less motorboat traffic. At the very northern tips, the lake is much shallower, so when water levels are lower the impact is more apparent.

The central part of the lake is the widest, and there are two marinas towards the northern end of the central section off of Starlight Road. The western shoreline along the central section is comprised of the gated Chapin Estate.

The lower third of the lake. It’s the least developed and the most ‘pristine’, largely the result of restrictions to protect the eagle population. The eastern (Forestburgh) shoreline in this area is an eagle nesting preserve,a 300 foot wide buffer area where no tree cutting, limbing or building is permitted. There are houses in this area, but they’re set a minimum of 300′ back from the shore, and are prohibted from clearing the trees to open up a lake view, although floating docks are permitted at the shoreline. When you’re on a boat in this area, it feels like you’re on a pristine, largely undeveloped mountain lake. A popular activity is boating to this part of the lake, pulling your boat up along the shore and enjoying a summer picnic.

Swinging Bridge Quick Facts
  • Motorboat lake
  • Public access, non-gated with the exception of the Chapin Estate section on the western shoreline.
  • 95 miles from the George Washington Bridge
  • Approx. 1100 acres, 9 1/2 miles long
  • Largest lake in Sullivan County
  • Parcel sizes: , 1/4 acre to approx. 5-6 acres
  • House prices: Lakefront, non-Chapin, $300,000 to $1.5M. Lakefront at the Chapin Estate, $1M to $1.6M. Non-lakefront, non-Chapin side, $150,000 to $300,000, Chapin side $500,000 to $800,000